On August 28, 1963, two hundred and fifty thousand people
attended the Lincoln Memorial when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have
a Dream” speech. In his speech, he talks about the challenges of being an
African American living in an unequal society. He also goes in depth about many
changes he wants to see in life. He wanted everybody to be treated equally in
the world. In Martin Luther King Jr.’s, “I Have a Dream” speech, he uses rhetorical
devices like repetition and Aristotle’s three appeals—ethos, pathos and logos—as
well as literary devices such as metaphors to persuade people that segregation
needs to end.
Dr. King uses ethos when he
stated, “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we
stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation.” This quote reminded his
audience that President Lincoln was a good president in 1863. He authorized the
American people through the civil war. Lincoln wanted to gain the trust from
America for more freedom, so everyone could be treated equally. King wanted to
remind the audience, that he wanted everyone to have their freedom and it can
end slavery. He wanted them to realize that nothing changed over the past hundred
years. King wanted to see a lot of progress in America, but many people did not
realize how important his speech was.
King uses pathos when he stated,
“And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it
together.” This quote come from Isaiah out of the Bible, he wanted to make people
have faith in him. He wanted people to realize he is telling the truth. Every
single word in his speech that he uses is honesty, and they have to believe in
him that they will have freedom soon. He wanted all people to stand together
instead of being separated all the time. He used this Bible verse, because he
wanted to let the audience know that the Lord sent him to say this speech among
different people and how emotional this speech is.
King also uses logos when he
stated, “America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come
back marked “insufficient funds.”’ By using this quote, he wants everyone to
understand the position of having money and letting them understand how it feels
to be handed a bad check. Some people didn’t know how it felt to get bad checks
handed to them, and King was trying to make everyone realize that is not a good
thing to go through when in a situation like that. He wanted everyone to at
least be in that predicament that he was once in. The government was racist to
minorities, and King wanted that situation to change. He uses this metaphor to
logically to show how people been oppressed.
Dr. King uses the metaphor, “Let
us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of
bitterness and hatred.” He wanted the audience to visualize this image in their
head. He compares the distress to gain
freedom to gratify one’s thirst and the bitterness and hatred towards the cup.
He wanted peace in the world even when it got difficult to handle. At this difficult
time, many people who protested became violent towards him. Dr. King did not
believe that being violent would progress towards a better society. He used
this metaphor to make the protesters understand the desire for freedom. Freedom
should never turn violent, and that they should remain peaceful if they want to
see better results in society. Many people didn’t realize how much hatred was
in the world, because of people’s race until it started to get worse. White
people started to hate black people, they treated them very differently.
Everyone was segregated, King just wanted everyone to come together as one, and
to get along with each other so that society could get better instead of having
so much bitterness toward each other.
The most well-known use of
repetition in Dr. King’s speech was “I have a dream.” He states:
have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia sons of former slaves and
the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table
of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even in the state of Mississippi, a
state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression,
will be transformed… I have a dream that my four little children will one day
live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but
by the content of their character.
King’s main objective in repeating
“I have a dream” was not only to grab the attention of his audience, but also
to emphasize the change he wanted to see in America. The speech also created a
sense of urgency, that change needed to come soon. His use of repetition here
was effective, because it made much of what he said more memorable by
reinforcing the central message of his speech in an appealing, interesting way.
It made the audience pay more attention while he was talking. He wanted people
to know that America will get better in due time, because of the dream he had.
He wanted multiple people to realize that all the things America had been
through they can still get better.
As a final point, Dr. King’s “I
Have a Dream” speech emphasizes things in America which changed. He used rhetorical
devices such as Aristotle’s three appeals—ethos, pathos, and logos—and repetition,
to firmly install his audience and listeners to the current societal condition
of the United States of America, while also burning the encouraging quote, “I
Have a Dream” into the minds of those witnessing his profound speech. He also
used literary devices such as metaphors to further paint a picture of America
and its many inequalities and prejudices, while also portraying what he
believed the United States should grow and progress into one, by offering equal
treatments and freedom to people of all races. Martin Luther King Jr impacted
America greatly and if it wasn’t for him, the world would have been completely
different. He wanted everyone to have faith in him that his speech would change
America by making it public. He hoped that society would progress and become
better by not judging one another by the color of their skin and how they look.